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Re: Too Much Skeg *PIC*
In Response To: Too Much Skeg ()

I also feel that most skegs are much bigger than necessary

Just to throw out some numbers:
The KajakSport skeg I have looks like a fairly typical 'fin' type skeg, designed to be lowered with the leading edge at 40 degrees at maximum. The usual spot for installing a skeg is aft of the rear hatch. Area at full deployment is about 35+ sq inches.

Another shape for skegs is a 'pie-shaped' triangle. My copy of the Reg Lake skeel which is in my 16' Frej is about 20 sq in when fully deployed.

fine tuning the control to have just a small amount of skeg deployed can be very difficult. A very small change in the control often results in a very big change in how much skeg is exposed.

This is definitely a problem.
With a 'fin' control, adjustments at the 'full down' end don't make a great deal of difference in exposed area. At the 'full up' end, they do. With a 'triangle' skeg the control is linear - halfway is half area.

A huge fin sticking down in back doesn't guarantee that the kayak will track straight, but it does make if very resistant to steering strokes. You end up going where the wind and waves dictate without much ability to influence the course.

In a boat with a very strong tendency to weathercock, the skeg is necessary to paddle off the wind or downwind. Some of those weathercocking boats can be quite 'strong tracking' -i.e. resistant to some turns. I haven't paddled a lot of boats, but I've been in 'turn-y boats that weathercocked and ones (like Frej) that were balanced, and strong-tracking boats that also weathercocked. (Aside: it's like rudder boats- some need the rudder to turn, some to go straight.)
IMO, a well-balanced boat like the Frej just needs a bit of help with tracking, so I don't have to pay so much attention when paddling. :-)

I think that the usual position for a skeg aft of the back hatch has been chosen as much for convenience in packing gear as for performance. There, it does 'anchor' the stern quite a lot which can be a good thing in a strongly-weathercocking boat, but for a more balanced boat, it can make the performance worse.
Moving the skeg forward to a position just aft the cockpit (aka skeel) can help with tracking and balance in a more subtle way. It does get in the way of a 'day hatch' compartment, but I think it's worth it.

I'm building another Frej (18') and it will have a similar skeel.